Christmas 2018 Letter

I am writing this Christmas letter in front of a blazing fire, in a lovely and cozy cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We started 2018 housesitting, in tropical Panama, and end it here housesitting in wintry North Carolina.

I am amazed at all we did in 2018. It was a busy travel year, which of course, we just love. Here is a recap of our 2018 travels….

January: Our high point in Panama was a day trip to a very remote Indian village. It was a scene out of National Geographic. From Panama, we flew “home” to our tiny house in Mission, Texas, then flew almost immediately to Rochester, MN where we retired in 2013. We were there as a guest speaker for the public library fundraiser. We spoke about out housesitting adventures and living life mostly on the road, all on a shoestring budget.

February: From MN we flew to Calgary to visit a cousin, then took a direct flight to Baja, California. Our daughter Alexis accompanied us and we spent a delightful week in an AirB&B in Loreto. (highly recommend). We picked up our other daugher Meredith who had been living in Baja, and took her to Asheville to get her settled in.

March: We then commenced our spring European housesitting stint. After one night in Rome, our arrival location, we took the train to northern Italy to a remote village near the Adriatic Sea called Cingoli. It was one of the best housesitting assignments we have had. The owners loaned us their car and we took many day trips to ancient mountain villages, with absolutely no one speaking English. What fun! After the assignment, we spent a few days (eating) in Bologna, then took the train through the Alps to Geneva, for another lovely assignment.

April: We did a lot of criss-crossing around Europe. With inexpensive flights, we flew to London, then took a train to northern Yorkshire, England for another assignment. Here we were in James Heriott’s territory…. “All Creatures Great and Small”. Again we took a lot of day trips to charming villages where we enjoyed cozy pubs. From there, we did another housesit outside of Cambridge, England, staying in a lodge once occupied by one of the Queens! We then took a bus and train to Belgium where we met up with 2 sets of friends that we have meant while RVing. Friends Daniel and Minnie from San Francisco were traveling through Belgium, and we were able to rendezvous with them. Then we met up with friends Tony and Jenny from Nova Scotia. We spent a week based in Ghent, Belgium and traveled around the country with them. The best thing about traveling is meeting people, and then reuniting with them – all over the world!

May: We fulfilled one of our bucket list items by taking a tall-sail ship cruise (Windstar Cruises) around Italy. The cruise included stops in beautiful Montenegro, Croatia, and then ended in Venice. Hopping all over Europe, we spent another 2 weeks in western England, near Wales, at a lovely housesit, and then one near Bordeaux, France. The airport controllers were on strike, so our flight was canceled and we had to take a 40-hour bus ride from Wales to Bordeaux, through the Chunnel. What an experience!

June: We loved the Bordeaux area (especially the wine and food!), then flew back to Texas. After a week getting ourselves organized, we hooked up the Airstream and headed out for our summer road trip. We took our time following the US southern coast, then ended up on the eastern shore in North Carolina, where we spent two weeks housesitting, capped by 4th of July fireworks over the bay in Edenton.

July: We took our time driving and camping up through eastern USA. We spent several weeks in our favorite part of the country – Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. How lovely!

August/September: Another reunion with our friends Tony and Jenny from Nova Scotia (whom we had met in 2013 in Newfoundland while camping). We spent a few weeks with them, staying in national parks all over New Brunswick. What fun to explore together! Then, on our own again, on to Quebec. Our plan was to circle the Gaspe Peninsula, then head on to Labrador. This was not to be. On August 20, in the middle of the night, George suffered a heart attack. Life changed immediately. We were in a remote village on the St. Lawrence River, where no one spoke English, and we were without a phone. What to do? (Check out blog posts from August and September for details). In short, we got him to an urgent care center, then to a rural hospital, then airlifted to a heart hospital in Quebec City. A lot of overwhelming experiences during that time, with the kindness of the Quebecois forever imprinted in my memory.

October: After retrieving the Airstream back in Gaspe, we traveled back to the USA for medical follow-up in Vermont. We spent some time in Burlington (cool town), then moseyed back south. We checked off a few more bucket list items – the Frank Lloyd Wright house in PA and the Thousand Island area of NY. We camped in several wineries and breweries, thanks to Harvest Hosts. We dropped the Airstream off at the factory in Ohio to get a dent repaired.

November: We spent the month back in our tiny house in far South Texas. George did a lot of relaxing and I took advantage of our community’s activities – water aerobics, yoga and line dancing classes. We were delighted to have our daughter Alexis visit us for a week.

December: We end the year in Asheville, with the last housesitting assignment of the year. We are enjoying spending some quiet time in the cozy cabin and seeing our daughter Meredith in town.

What wonderful year, with lots of adventures, both good and bad! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a great 2019!

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